One of the writing prompts I saw suggested writing about a defining moment in your life. All right then, I will do just that.
May, 2002. I had just celebrated the worst birthday of my life only days before, signing final papers that were the end of a dream. Everything I knew and believed about my life was gone and I did not know how I was going to go on. I mean, I’d think it, say it, even, “I can’t go on….” and then, of course, do just that. Because that’s what you do.
Friends of mine had decided I needed some special care and treatment and had, as they put it, passed the hat; I had opened a special delivery envelope to find plane tickets and hotel reservations and all kinds of things that were going to send me on the first flight of my life, to the city I had so wanted to see: New York. Come for the concert, they said. Let us love you and take care of you for a few days. Such a wonderful gift I could hardly believe it….”I can’t do this!” I said to my mom, and she said, “Of course you can. Of COURSE you can.”
And so I did.
They kept me busy (too busy to think…and we didn’t talk about all that had just happened to me…I didn’t want to!) and I smiled more than I would have thought possible. I even laughed a time or two. I had some of the most amazing adventures in that magical city. But let’s not forget that this was only a few months after 9/11….
I wanted to see Ground Zero. I couldn’t really say why I wanted to, but I did. I needed to.
When we stood there, as near as we could be to all that was left, I felt my grief open its gaping maw all over again, leaving me hollowed out, scalded and blinded. And then a new thought pushed right through it all, insisting I face it: “This is my life. This is what’s left.”
Someone else made a decision to blast everything apart. I didn’t see it coming, and wreckage is all that remains of my dream.
I wanted to lie down in that dark bloody soil and die.
But I couldn’t. A small child waited for me at home. And I needed to show the destroyer that I wasn’t so easily broken. Somehow. I had to survive this, somehow, even though at the time I didn’t see how I ever would.When we got back to our hotel, I wrote this. One take, never changing a single word.
from the ashes
bitter tears in her eyes,
bitter taste in her mouth.
no longer curled
around her pain,
in a single motion.
to the angry sky
there are no answers here,
throws back her hair.
settles the tatters
of her clothing, and
dashes away the final tears,
smoldering wreckage, and
seeking cooling waters and
fragile new growth.
I miss who I used to be, even though I like who I am now.